Don’t I have the right to do what I want with what is mine? Are you jealous because I’m generous?
In All Fairness…
Have you ever felt wronged at work? Perhaps someone new received a promotion before you, even though you have been working longer and harder than they have. You may look at the situation and say, “That is not fair!”
In this parable—an earthly illustration of a heavenly reality—Jesus addresses a similar scenario in the kingdom of heaven. A landowner (God) goes out to hire day laborers (hopeless and unwanted people whom no one would hire full-time) to work in his vineyard (His kingdom).
The Same Reward
Jesus explains how some workers were hired early in the morning, some at midday, and others at the last hour. This refers to how some people enter the kingdom of heaven at a younger age and some older. At the end of the day, the landlord gives the same payment to all workers. It’s not about when they were hired. The workers who were hired first said, “That is not fair!” As we look at this situation and the world around us, it’s easy for us to beg the same question: Is God fair?
All who believe in Christ receive the same reward: God’s grace. Salvation is by God’s grace through faith, and it is not of our own doing so no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). The workers who were hired early in the day felt like they should have received a greater reward. They only considered the fact that they had been laboring longer. But the kingdom of heaven is not a reward-based system. God does not grant greater grace and blessings to those who work the longest. God dispenses His grace and gifts as He sees fit, according to His good will and pleasure, to accomplish His purpose through Jesus the Messiah (Ephesians 1:5).
Found Hopeful and Loved
When we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior and believe He rose from the dead, we immediately are saved. It is then that we enter the kingdom of heaven. We who were hopeless and unwanted by this world are now hopeful and loved by the King of the universe!
When this happens, we receive spiritual gifts to expand the kingdom of heaven on earth (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). Some people accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior at a younger age and receive certain spiritual gifts to build the kingdom of heaven. Some people accept Jesus at a later time in their life and may receive a greater dose of spiritual gifts. But who are we to say, “That is not fair!”? God’s generosity in itself reveals a merciful unfairness on our behalf.
Also, this parable teaches us that no matter how old you are or how unwanted you may be, it is never too late to enter the kingdom of heaven. Just like the thief on the cross!
Take a moment to reflect on the situations in your life that you have thought to be “unfair.” Consider the ways you’ve been tempted to view God as being unfair or unjust. Then, spend a moment in prayer thanking Him for the mercy He has shown you, through Jesus, in giving you the everlasting life you do not deserve.